In The News
Susan G. Komen’s Decision Closes Doors That Help Save Lives
The Internet is abuzz over Susan G. Komen’s decision to withdraw funding to Planned Parenthood for health screenings, particularly in the area of breast health.
I won’t go on and on about the politics behind this decision - politics that those of more conservative views seem to support. I won’t go on and on about how ridiculous it is to label the extensive work that Planned Parenthood does to be solely based on abortions.
I won’t because the political heads, their followers, and the media juggernauts that are just salivating at the news material will do plenty to discuss it all.
What I will talk about is how funding such as Komen’s for breast health screenings has helped to not only educate and inform women, but also save lives. The pink t-shirts, pink coffee cups, pink ribbon pins and caps we like to sport around during Breast Awareness month and at the yearly races do not.
These things never mattered during my work as a volunteer at a local health center where I served as an interpreter helping to comfort, inform, and encourage Latinas to get checked. The Komen Foundation paid for the services.
Year after year, women of all ethnicities, cultural background, and age would line up for hours at a time in search of help, information, and care. Not all were poor. Not all were of color, or without education. Some had limited insurance, others had none.
During my community service work I saw first-hand that cancer is blind to skin color, social status, and ability to speak English or not. It doesn’t care who you are, who you know, where you come from, whether you’re rich or poor, religious or not, or even what you’ve accomplished with your life.
For many women who receive the services of a free health screening, there is an element of fear so great, so powerful that it has a tendency to push those needing the help the most into complete denial. The funding for these services not only helps provide the services themselves, but also helps bring together the team needed to communicate, connect, support, and encourage women to get checked. The cash is the biggest mean to the end, but it alone is not the greatest. This greatest task is that of the volunteers, social workers, nurses, doctors, and technicians who work endlessly at agencies such as Planned Parenthood to offer women a chance – a chance for a better, longer, healthier life.
Susan G. Komen’s shortsighted decision has taken that chance away, and with it the support of many of its followers and volunteers.
My grandmother died of breast cancer. My mother died of breast cancer. Though I applaud the decision to continue the search of a cure, I know many others who have lost a loved one would prefer the immediate funding that would help to keep potential victims of cancer alive – today.
And I have a story for those who insist in their thinking that Planned Parenthood does nothing more but perform and push abortions:
Fifteen years ago, a 27 year old, single Latina, college-educated, fully employed female found out she was pregnant. Her ex-boyfriend didn’t want the baby. She had no one to financially support her, and she was afraid to tell her family in shame of having become the stereotype they worked so hard to avoid for her.
She was scared and confused, and unsure if she would always have the financial stability to care for her baby. She thought she wanted the baby, but had questions.
She walked into her local Planned Parenthood and spoke to a social worker. The meeting gave her not only all the information she would need to prepare for this baby, but also the confidence that it would all be ok, and that they would be there to help her and her child should she ever need it.
She walked away ready to have a baby, because even though conservative and religious groups would mark her a failure to society, a burden on the tax payer’s pocket, and just another pathetic single mother – Planned Parenthood gave her the encouragement and promise of support she needed to see it through.
Today, my son and I are everything that Planned Parenthood social worker said we could be together…and more.
My hope is that funding doesn’t force the doors closed to the next woman needing the help too.